Greek foreign minister expects progress in guarding EU external border



Zagreb, 290120.
Ministarstvo vanjskih i europskih poslova. Djordjiceva 4.
Susret ministara vanjskih i europskih poslova RH Gorana Grlic Radmana i Grcke Nikolasa Georgios Dendiasa.
Na fotografiji: ministri Nikolas Georgios Dendias i Goran Grlic Radman.
Foto: Zeljko Puhovski / CROPIX
Zeljko Puhovski / CROPIX

Greek Foreign Minister Nikolaos Dendias and Croatian Foreign Minister Goran Grlic Radman

Greece is doing all it can to guard the EU's external border against illegal migrants in the best possible way, Foreign Minister Nikolaos Dendias said during a visit to Zagreb on Wednesday.

My government is doing all it can to protect the EU's external border in the best possible way, but that is not easy considering the sea, the islands and the proximity of the Turkish coast, Dendias told a press conference after meeting his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic Radman.

He added that he expected huge progress to be made in this regard in the coming months.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, last year 59,726 migrants arrived on the Greek islands, most of them on Lesbos, Chios and Samos, which are close to the Turkish coast.

Many of the migrants reach Croatia on their way from Greece to Western Europe, using the Western Balkan route.

Dendias said that migration is the most important issue which Croatia, as the country that currently holds the EU presidency, takes very seriously.

He and Grlic Radman discussed how to create a better environment in the EU to cope with the phenomenon of migration, which they said would not disappear. Dendias said that the common European asylum policy and EU readmission rules could be of great help.

Accusing Turkey of violating Greece's territorial rights, Dendias said that the Croatian presidency would have a huge role with regard to Turkey.

He thanked Croatia for putting the issue of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans back on the agenda, saying that this had been Greece's strategic goal since the 2003 Thessaloniki summit. In that regard, he welcomed the EU-Western Balkans summit that would be held in Zagreb in May.

Dendias expressed his support for opening EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the country that had agreed to change its name over the dispute with Greece, but which was not enough for the European Council last October to give the green light for membership talks to begin.

The Croatian government makes no secret of its ambition to open the talks before the Zagreb summit, and French President Emanuel Macron, who was the most vocal opponent of opening negotiations in October, has said he is ready to change his mind by May.

Dendias expressed Greece's support for Croatia's bid to join the Schengen area, the euro area and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Grlic Radman said they had also discussed the priorities of the Croatian EU presidency, the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the many challenges currently facing the EU, such as Brexit, migration and the multiannual financial framework.

The two ministers described the relations between Croatia and Greece as traditionally excellent, underscoring investment and cooperation in the areas of transport connectivity, the defence industry and the electrical industry.

Grlic Radman welcomed the growing number of Greeks visiting Croatia.